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Illinois Paralegal Schools

Illinois boasts some great prospects in both employment levels and pay for those interested in becoming a paralegal in the state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Illinois as having one of the top employment levels of paralegals in the United States, and the western part of the state is one of the highest paying non-metropolitan areas in the country.1 These are some of the many reasons why it makes good sense for prospective paralegals in Illinois to consider a paralegal degree.

There are quite a few options for structured paralegal education programs in Illinois, many of which are American Bar Association-approved programs. Throughout the state, one can find campus-based and online paralegal programs, as well as a variety of program styles. There are two-year degrees, four-year degrees, and certificates available.

How to Become a Paralegal in Illinois

Becoming a paralegal in Illinois can be achieved through work experience or completion of a structured paralegal education program. Although there are no mandated education requirements in Illinois, the Illinois Paralegal Association states that most paralegals in Illinois have completed at least a two-year paralegal program. The association also offers a voluntary paralegal accreditation program for its members, based on a certain level of education and experience.

Illinois Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

The job outlook for a paralegal in Illinois looks very good. The average annual salary for a paralegal in Illinois is $49,020 per year.1 The state employs about 12,070 paralegals at this time, and this number is growing.1 The Bureau of Economic Analysis measures gross domestic product for each state. More specifically it looks at the growth of the business and professional services sector, of which legal services are included, and Illinois saw a growth of 2.9% from 2012 to 2013.2 While this is lower than the national average of 3.5%, long-term growth in Illinois is on the rise.2 Projections Central predicts that the profession in Illinois will grow by 17.5% by 2022, adding about 2,000 jobs to the market.3 This growth is slightly higher than the 17% growth in this field that has been predicted for the nation for the same time period.3

As of February 2015, the unemployment rate for Illinois was 6.0%. This put the state at number 35 out of 50 states and D.C. Despite a below average overall employment grade, it seems that pursuing a paralegal career in Illinois could still be a smart thing to do.

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Illinois

Loyola University – Chicago: The Institute for Paralegal Studies at Loyola University, Chicago has a top-rated American Bar Association-approved certificate in paralegal studies program. This program is a total of 24 credit hours with 14 hours of foundation courses, six hours of concentration courses, and four hours of electives. Students are able to choose from three different concentrations: Civil Litigation, Corporate/Commercial Transactions, and Corporate/Real Estate. Over two dozen legal professionals teach for the Institute for Paralegal Studies, with careers ranging from attorneys to judges.

Illinois State University: The Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University has an American Bar Association-approved paralegal training program. Students are required to complete 24 credit hours of Legal Studies courses in addition to university core classes. The fundamental courses include Introduction to Law for Paralegals, Legal Research I and II, and Litigation I and II. Five out of the three dozen faculty members specialize in Legal Studies, many of whom possess a Juris Doctor.

Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Illinois

Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione is one of the top thirty largest law firms in Illinois, with attorneys practicing throughout the state. Brinks recently received recognition from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association for its focus on creating an inclusive working environment. Brinks seeks paralegals with outstanding academic performance and strong communication skills. International firm Sidley Austin LLP has offices in Chicago, where it has maintained an office for over 140 years. Now one of the largest, oldest, and most respected law firms in the state Sidley Austin offers competitive benefits and compensation with bonuses and generous paid leave. Clifford Law Offices is one of the top ranked personal injury attorney firms in Illinois, and has been recognized by US News’ Best Law Firm Guide. The firm regularly uses top of the line technology in its trial responses, requiring paralegal support for research and preparation.

Paralegal Schools and Programs in Illinois

An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

College of Lake County (Grayslake)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Elgin Community College (Elgin)*
Associate of Applied Science | Legal Office Professional
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Vocational Certificate | Legal Office Assistant
Vocational Certificate | Paralegal

Harper College (Palatine)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Illinois Central College (East Peoria)*
Bachelor of Arts | Legal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal
Minor | Legal Studies
Post-Degree Certificate | Paralegal

Illinois State University (Normal)*
Post-baccelaureate Certificate | Legal Studies
Non-degree Certificate | Legal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
Minor | Legal Studies

Kankakee Community College (Kankakee)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies
Advanced Certificate | Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies

Lewis and Clark Community College (Godfrey)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal
Certificate of Proficiency | Paralegal

Lewis University (Romeoville)
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies: Accelerated
Bachelor of Arts | Philosophy of Law
Minor | Paralegal Studies
Minor | Philosophy of Law
Pre-Professional Program | Pre-Law

Loyola University (Chicago)*
Dual Certificate | Litigation and Corporate Practice
Certificate | Corporate Practice
Certificate | Litigation Practice
Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies

MacCormac College (Chicago)*
Associate of Applied Science | Court Reporting
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies

Midstate College (Peoria)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Arts | Law and Social Justice
Bachelor of Science | Realtime Reporting

Northwestern College (formerly Northwestern Business College) (Chicago)*
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal (online)
Certificate | Paralegal

Robert Morris University (Chicago)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Professional Studies | Law Office Administration

Robert Morris University (Springfield)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Roosevelt University (Chicago)*
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies: Flex-Track Degree
Bachelor of Arts | Legal Studies/ JD
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies/ JD
Master of Public Administration/JD | Public Administration and Law
Post-baccalaureate Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Post-baccalaureate Certificate | Paralegal Studies (online)
Minor | Legal Studies

South Suburban College (South Holland)*
Associate of Applied Science | Court Reporting/Verbatim Technology
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Certificate | Paralegal/Legal Assistant

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (Carbondale)*
Bachelor of Science | Paralegal Studies
Master of Legal Studies Degree
Master of Laws Degree
Master of Laws Degree | Health Law and Policy

Southwestern Illinois College (Belleville)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Studies (accelerated)
Associate of Applied Science | Office Administration: Legal Office Specialist
Program | Pre-Law

Wilbur Wright College (Chicago, IL)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal

William Rainey Harper College (Palatine)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Post-degree Certificate | Paralegal Studes

*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)

Additional Resources:

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#ind
2. Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/
3. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm